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I want to save more money for emergencies. How do I start?

Saving money is hard. If it were easy, we all would have plenty for retirement and at least three months of income socked away in emergency savings accounts. The worst thing people do when it comes to saving is not start at all.

More than 25 percent of Clevelanders are “under-banked” meaning if they have a checking account they don’t have anything in savings or use high-cost non-bank services. More than half of all American families don’t have enough reserves in their savings accounts to pay $1,000 for an emergency.

For every message we hear about saving, there are ten about how to spend. Cleveland Saves, a project of NHS of Greater Cleveland, is all about the message of saving by setting goals, planning, and starting small. One type of savings account that families should strive to set-up and keep separate from spending accounts is an emergency savings account. An emergency account is the best way to avoid borrowing and increasing debt if something unplanned occurs such as a car repair, health issue, or home repair.

Cleveland Saves works with Savers at all income levels.  Some of the best practices to save money are…

  • Split your paycheck, some into checking (about 90 percent) and the rest into savings. Your HR department can help you do this easily with direct deposit.
  • Reduce your eating out budget, especially lunches. Food budgets are one area that we have a lot of control over.
  • Watch spending on credit cards and other loans since paying interest takes away from earning interest.
  • If you get a tax refund, be sure to purchase U.S. Savings Bonds or split your tax refund into a savings account.
  • Leverage community resources that are near or entirely free such as public libraries, free tax preparation, playgrounds, and museums.

Sign-up for Cleveland Saves now. Go to  and you will be enrolled in minutes. Remember that saving is a habit. If you start small and think big, the habit of saving will help you during times in your life you earn less, and will be passed on to your children.   Have more questions? Contact one of our financial capability counselors at 216.458.HOME.


This article was written by David Rothstein from Neighborhood Housing Services of Greater Cleveland and appeared in The Alert: Volume 30, Issue 1. Click here to read the full issue.

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